The three methods of trying to live the Christian life

From his teaching on Galatians
Dr. J. Vernon McGee

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

There are 3 methods of trying to live the Christian life—two will not work. One is a life of legalism, which Paul has been discussing. The other is the life of license, which Paul discussed in Romans 6. You may fall into sin, but you will get out of it.

The 3rd method iof living the Christian life is the life of liberty. The remainder of Dr. McGee’s teaching in this chapter of Galatians will give the modus operandi for living by liberty. The life of legalism includes the 10 Commandments plus a set of regulations that Bible believers follow today. They will tell you where you can’t go and what you can’t do. Like, don’t use make-up, don’t wear this, etc. Do things which please the Lord, but do them because you love him, not in order to keep the law.

“Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.” It is grace, not law, that frees us from doing wrong and allows us to do right. Grace does not set us free to sin, but it sets us free from sin. The believer should desire to please God, not because he is a slave, but because he is a son and he wills to please his father. He does what God wants, not because he fears to do otherwise like an enemy, but because he wants to do it, for God is his friend. God is the One who loves him. He serves God, not because of pressure from without such as the law, but because of a great principle within—even the life of Christ that is within him.

We serve God because we love him. The whole basis of obedience is a love relationship to Him. The law never could bring us to that place. It was negative to begin with. It produced negative goodness—which is a kind of goodness many have today. Negative goodness is legal goodness. You can say, “I don’t do this and I don’t do that.” But what do you do? All these systems produce negative goodness. They never rise to the sphere of positive goodness where one does things to please God for the very love of pleasing Him. He wants us to serve Him on that basis.